Creativity is the driving force behind every writer. It’s what motivates you, gets you excited and gives you the nerve to bare your soul. Without creativity inspiration, your work goes flat, like an open can of soda that sat on the counter for too long. Inspiring the creative process is about finding insightful ways to spark your imagination. It’s about allowing yourself to think differently and taking a break from your usual process to make room for the new and unexpected.
Creativity Inspiration: Invite the Process
If there is a subject that interests you, no matter what it is, learn more about it. Explore it even if it doesn’t seem relevant to your current project or life. Exploring your interests, new and old, exercises the mind, gives you a new way to look at the world, and allows you to build a new vocabulary.
Leonardo da Vinci’s famous notebooks were filled with to-do lists about items that interested him and people who could provide the information that he sought. Tasks on his list included drawing Milan after calculating its measurements, finding a book about Milan’s churches, examining crossbows, talking to a hydraulics master about lock repairs, asking a professor about the sun’s measurements, and more.
Build Your Bank of Ideas and Facts
Never stop learning and asking questions. Allow your mind to find patterns in the information that you learn so you can have those breakthrough moments where an analogy sings from the tip of your pen (or from your fingertips on a keyboard). Keep in mind that these breakthroughs can happen when you least expect, so never pooh-pooh those seemingly useless facts that your brain acquires.
Work on the Mystery, Not Just the Puzzle
Once you solve a problem, you’re done. Mysteries have longer shelf lives. Television shows, for example, solve puzzles in 45-minute packages. You watch the show, get a thrill and feel a sense of resolution at the end. The woman who inspired the Mona Lisa, on the other hand, is a mystery. Centuries later, people continue to ponder the story behind the curious smirk.
Take a Break
Every writer experiences this: suddenly getting a brilliant idea while falling asleep or in the shower. Depart from your usual routine to give your brain a chance to process, and keep your writing tools nearby. Don’t take a break with the intention of getting a genius idea. Do it to stimulate your mind. Ideas to try include:
• Trying new foods
• Working on puzzle book
• Going on a walk (If you regularly walk, take a new route or reverse your current one.)
• Listening to new, complex music
Exercising allows your brains to develop new neurons in the hippocampus, which allows you to form new thought patterns. Exercising your body exercises the brain, which exercises your creativity.
Give yourself a chance to notice everything around you: how you feel and why, how your back feels as you sit in the chair, your breathing pattern, the sensation of blinking, the color of the leaves outside, the smell in the room, the sounds you hear through the walls, and so on. Give yourself a moment of awareness to unlock creativity inspiration.
While it may seem fleeting, creativity is an ongoing process. Pursue it, exercise it and welcome it. Give it a kick-start as needed. The important thing is to never let it go.
[Photo from Dean Hochman via CC License 2.0]